With every role I’ve had in my career, I’ve experienced some kind of fear. It’s quite a normal place to be if you want to grow, develop and achieve. This wisdom came a little later in my career when I decided I wanted to have a voice like the others, who may not necessarily have had the best things to say. If you want to make a difference, to your career and your life, if you crave authentic success, then you need to unleash your true voice, that authentic voice.
Here are six tips that I’ve gained from my own experiences:
Practice whenever you can
Start with smaller perhaps 1-1 type meetings and then build up towards bigger team meetings. If you manage a team and have quiet people that tend not to contribute, invite and encourage them to contribute. Don’t forget to give credit for their effort, it will be remembered and it might just motivate them to contribute without prompt in the future. Each time you practice you will grow in confidence.
Give credit and encourage others
Even if you haven’t invited a contribution, if someone makes one who doesn’t usually, pick up on it, reinforce their message with support. Not only will it build your confidence with speaking, it will build theirs and who knows what amazing things could come as a result!
Be mindful of your negative self-talk
Maintaining a positive mind is important for delivering a message. When you are in a positive zone, you see opportunities and not barriers. You see your strengths and not your weaknesses. You can teach yourself to think positively.
What comes to mind when you think about speaking out in a meeting? Write it down so you can work on it later. Catch the negative stories you tell yourself “they will laugh at my stupid idea.” Do you really know that to be true? Have you seen it yourself?
Only you can take action for yourself
Everyone has their own agenda when it comes to career development. You may be lucky enough to have a manager or leader who is enthusiastic about development and actively encourages and supports it. In my experience no-one has come along and invited me to take action, that’s been driven by me. It’s your life and your career. You decide what you want it to look like, establish what the gaps are there and create an action plan that will gradually take you outside of your comfort zone.
If it will help you, get yourself a mentor, it could be from within the organisation or externally. It’s an opportunity to share your growth ideas, and your fears and to collectively plan how you will overcome them and also, you’ll have someone who will encourage and support your progress. Mentors are valuable, I’ve had one since 2007, but I had to decide that I wanted it.
Choose your words carefully
Use positive and encouraging language. Not only does it make your message more positive but you will feel it too. Body language is what communicated when we are not speaking, so be mindful of posture, how you hold yourself and your facial expressions. A smile will always help you to feel more confident. Be aware of your tone of voice, this can convey messages about your mood or state of mind.
Remember communication is not just about words!
Challenge your fears
The key barrier to making your voice heard in all of these is fear so Challenge your fears every single day. I always say that if I’m afraid I actually want something, there is something I care about and so I can’t simply push it to one side, I have to explore it because it’s important to me. Fear shows us what we care about the most. It’s a signal, so listen to its voice. Fear is an emotion that can really encourage you to take purposeful action. It can drive you to practice having a voice, to give others credit, to challenge negative mind-talk. It will drive you towards being more effective.
Fear brings a choice
“Forget everything and run or face everything and rise”
The fear that stops you unleashing your voice is a fear of failure and it really is the biggest obstacle to success. In the early days of my career I used to dread having to present to senior management. My fears were centred on stumbling with my words, coming across as incompetent, and being caught out with their questions. The same thoughts went through my mind when I wanted to contribute in a meeting. Things changed, when I decided I wanted to have a voice, and it is a choice that involves action from you.
If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy!
The words of Dale Carnegie
I agree with Mr Carnegie, that to overcome fear it means taking action, however I would like you to think about fear for a moment.
To overcome the fears, you have about speaking in a meeting or presenting, you have to accept first that the fear is there. When you can rationalise fear, and put it into perspective it will lead to personal growth and increased confidence.
When you are aware of fear, ask yourself the following questions:
By answering these questions, you give yourself perspective about fear.
For fourteen years Danielle worked in the male dominated industry of Logistics and Supply Chain Management. Danielle’s work took her not only to all corners of the UK, but onto European and International destinations with prestigious brands such as Coca Cola, Tesco, Oxford University Press, Stanley Black & Decker and Panasonic. She achieved her ambition to one day have a global remit.
Throughout her career she has been dedicated to personal development and growth. A particular triumph was growing into her own authentic confident version of herself which catapulted her to win two industry accolades in 2013, one of which was the Everywoman DHL Award for Innovation and Sustainability.
Danielle believes that if we are growing, life will present challenges and obstacles, but it’s up to you if you accept them. Before acceptance there is fear. This will always be there. It’s the feeling of the impossible task, that you’re not good enough or that you will fail. To know the outcome, you have to take action and try.
This ethos lives in Danielle’s work as a confidence coach, trainer and author. Danielle has captured her knowledge and experience on this subject in her book Confidence through Courage. Using her valuable experience as a success in her industry, she helps others to push themselves over the boundaries of fear to find the inner confidence to achieve personal and professional success. Danielle inspires people to change and achieve through learning confidence!
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